March 2, 2006

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Doogal (G)
reviewed by Amy Diaz

A push-broom-resembling dog and his mostly-animal friends must save the world from an evil, weirdly shaped villain in Doogal, a movie destined to be a late-night favorite of potheads everywhere.

Because Doogal makes no sense if you’re not high. I’m not sure it would make much sense if you were high, but anything has to be an improvement on the bizarre blend of preschool programming pacing, circus-colored visuals and frenzied pop-culture-scatting, primarily by Jon Stewart, who voices the wizard. And about that wizard. While the movie contains recognizable human and animal characters, the wizards — of which there are a good one and a bad one — are these odd jack-in-the-box-without-a-box-type spring-with-a-head-and-torso things. “Why are the wizards springs?” was one of the questions I returned to several times in the movie, especially during the times when the film slowed to a glacial crawl so the characters could talk about friendship or engage in the world’s slowest fight scene with a bunch of skeletons.

Doogal (Daniel Tay) is a candy-addicted, accident-prone dog who is also the best friend of a little girl named Florence (Kylie Minogue). One day while she is riding on a merry-go-round and via a chain of events too convoluted to explain Doogal accidentally releases the evil wizard Zeebad (Jon Stewart) from and freezes Florence and a bunch of other characters too minor to have memorable names into the merry-go-round. Freezing stuff is, apparently, Zeebad’s bag and he sets out to find the three diamonds that will somehow allow him to freeze the sun. (Why? Silly questions like “why freeze the sun” or “why was an evil wizard frozen in the merry-go-round” will only make this movie harder to get through.) The good wizard Zebedee (Ian McKellen, and I swear I’m not making these names up) tells the band of Doogal and company (a rocker bunny voice by Jimmy Fallon, a singing cow voiced by Whoopi Goldberg and the singing cow’s boyfriend, a snail voiced by William H. Macy) that they must find the diamonds before Zeebad does.
Off they go on their journey, with Zeebad chasing them, all along cracking jokes so stale that it nearly broke my heart to hear them in Jon Stewart’s voice.

I pick on Stewart primarily because I expect better of him but the lame asides and the moldy pop culture references come from all quarters. And then, just when you think you’re about to drown in all the unimaginative, hackneyed nonsense, a moose voiced by Kevin Smith shows up, delivers a line with no apparent connection to the story, and then farts. Repeatedly. Because there is no joke in Doogal that doesn’t get run straight into the ground.

Apparently, this film is the movie-tie in of some British television show that had much of its dialogue recast for the U.S. market. This explains some, though not all, of the wall-to-wall strangeness of this movie. It doesn’t begin to explain the melted-box-of-crayons look of the film or why the creators couldn’t, in their cross-Atlantic translation, cut a good 30 minutes from the flick. After all, the four-year-olds and stoners this movie will likely appeal to are not known for their long attention spans.

D

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